Transgender Student Policy Information Session Held At Pascack Hills High School

The transgender flag.

The Pascack Valley Regional High School District held an information session for parents about the proposed transgender student policy on Tuesday night in the Pascack Hills High School auditorium. The superintendent of the district, Mr. P. Erik Gundersen was accompanied by the Board of Education’s attorney, Mr.  Rodney T. Hara to present the policy to a crowd of parents, teachers, students, and community members of varying opinions.


Mr. Gundersen introduced the information session with remarks on how this particular event was not a Board of Education meeting and audience members were urged not to attempt to sway the audience on if the Board should adopt the policy. A first reading of the policy will be held at Pascack Valley on Monday, April 4 at 4 pm. A second reading of the policy will also be held at Pascack Valley on Monday, April 11 at 7:30 pm. These Board of Education meetings will undoubtedly provide a wider opportunity for the community to speak on the policy.


The proposed transgender student policy addresses the legal rights of transgender students and how the district can “provide a safe, supportive, and inclusive learning environment for all students”. Under New Jersey State law, “no person shall be subjected to discrimination on the basis of actual or perceived gender identity”. With this policy, the district aims to educate their teachers, students, and parents on what legal rights transgender students have and that these rights should be respected. Many districts aren’t equipped to handle potential lawsuits about transgender rights so the Pascack Valley Regional High School District is taking monumental steps to develop this policy that will appropriately address such issues.


Mr. Gundersen made it clear in the near hour-long Q&A section of the information session that the district must follow the law and act accordingly. This includes respecting name preference, allowing those who identify as a particular gender to use the respective bathrooms and locker rooms of that gender, and honoring the privacy of transgender students.


Jonathan Levin, president of the student body at Pascack Hills High School, expressed that he felt that “the administration handled the meeting in a very professional way. They have done a great job at seeing all perspectives and analyzing what will work best for our school.” Levin stated that as a member of the Pascack Hills community, he is “in support of the policy. Not only has a legal precedent been established in this specific case, but Pascack Hills is also an environment that always promotes inclusion and respect. In order to maintain this positive school climate, I hope the policy passes.”


But of course, this opinion is not shared by all. During the Q&A portion of the information session, parents and other members of the community voiced their disapproval of the policy, citing religion and discomfort as factors in forming their opinions.


The full policy can be found here.


The agenda of the information session can be found here.


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